Day 8: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

week_of_prayer_logo_216wDay 8, Hearts Burning for Unity

Scripture

  • Isaiah 52:7-9, How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings good news.
  • Psalm 30, You have turned my mourning into dancing.
  • Colossians 1:27-29, How great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you.
  • Luke 24:13-36, Beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

Meditation

The disappointed disciples who leave Jerusalem for Emmaus have lost their hope that Jesus was the Messiah and walk away from their community. It is a journey of separation and isolation.

By contrast, they return to Jerusalem full of hope with a Gospel message on their lips. It is this resurrection message that drives them back into the heart of the community and into a communion of fellowship.

So often Christians try to evangelize with a competitive spirit, hoping to fill their own churches. Ambition overrides the desire for others to hear the life-giving message of the Gospel. True evangelism is a journey from Emmaus to Jerusalem, a journey from isolation into unity.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you have made our hearts burn within us, and have sent us back upon the road towards our brothers and sisters, with the Gospel message on our lips. Help us to see that hope and obedience to your commands always lead to the greater unity of your people. Amen.

For Reflection:

  • What are the disappointments that isolate us from others?
  • What are the gifts (initiatives, methods, and programs) that we can receive from other Christian communities?

This concludes the 2016 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Source: Greymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute

Day 7: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

week_of_prayer_logo_216wDay 7, Hospitality for Prayer

Scripture

  • Isaiah 62:6-7, Upon your walls, O Jerusalem, I have posted sentinels; all day and all night they shall never be silent.
  • Psalm 100, Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness.
  • 1 Peter 4:7b-10, Be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers.
  • John 4:4-14, The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.

Meditation

As long as God’s people are divided, and Christians are estranged from one another, we are like Jesus in Samaria, strangers in a foreign land, without safety, without refreshment and without a place of rest.

The people of Israel longed for a place of safety where they could worship the Lord. Isaiah tells us of the Lord’s mighty act; he posted sentinels on the walls of Jerusalem so that his people could worship him in safety day and night.

In the Week of Prayer our churches and chapels become places of safety, rest and refreshment for people to join in prayer. The challenge from this week is to create more places and protected times of prayer, because as we pray together, we become one people.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you asked your apostles to stay awake with you and to pray with you. May we offer the world protected times and spaces in which to find refreshment and peace, so that praying together with other Christians we may come to know you more deeply. Amen.

For Reflection:

  • How can we promote mutual hospitality among parishes and congregations in our locality?
  • Is there a place in our neighborhood where Christians from different traditions can gather in prayer, and if not can we help to create such a place?

Source: Greymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute

Day 6: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

week_of_prayer_logo_216wDay 6, Listen to this Dream

Scripture

  • Genesis 37:5-8, Listen to this dream that I dreamed.
  • Psalm 126, We were like those who dream.
  • Romans 12: 9-13, Love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor.
  • John 21:25, The world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

Meditation

Joseph has a dream, which is a message from God. However, when Joseph shares his dream with his brothers they react with anger and violence because the dream implies that they must bow down before him. Ultimately famine drives the brothers to Egypt and they do bow before Joseph, but rather than the abasement and dishonor they fear, it is a moment of reconciliation and grace.

Jesus, like Joseph, unfolds to us a vision, a message about the life of his Father’s kingdom. It is a vision of unity. But like Joseph’s brothers, we are often upset, angered and fearful of the vision and what it seems to imply. It demands that we submit and bow to the will of God. We fear it because we fear what we might lose. But the vision is not about loss. Rather, it is about regaining brothers and sisters we had lost, the reuniting of a family.

We have written many ecumenical texts, but the vision of Christian unity is not captured in agreed statements alone, important though these are. The unity God desires for us, the vision he puts before us, far exceeds anything we can express in words or contain in books. The vision must take flesh in our lives and in the prayer and mission that we share with our brothers and sisters. Most of all it is realized in the love we show for one another.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, grant us humility to hear your voice, to receive your call, and to share your dream for the unity of the Church. Help us to be awake to the pain of disunity. Where division has left us with hearts of stone, may the fire of your Holy Spirit inflame our hearts and inspire us with the vision of being one in Christ, as he is one with you, so that the world may believe that you have sent him. This we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

For Reflection:

  • What does it mean to place our own dreams for Christian unity at the feet of Christ?
  • In what ways does the Lord’s vision of unity call the churches to renewal and change today?

Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

Source: Greymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute

Day 5: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

week_of_prayer_logo_216wDay 5, The Fellowship of the Apostles

Scripture

  • Isaiah 56:6-8, For my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.
  • Psalm 24, Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD?
  • Acts 2:37-42, They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
  • John 13:34-35, I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.

Meditation

Jesus’ commandment to love one another is not theoretical. Our communion of love with one another becomes concrete when we gather together intentionally as Christ’s disciples, to share fellowship and prayer in the power of the Spirit.

The more that Christians, especially their leaders, encounter Christ together in humility and patience, the more prejudice diminishes, the more we discover Christ in one another, and the more we become authentic witnesses to the Kingdom of God.

At times ecumenism can seem very complicated. Yet joyful fellowship, a shared meal and common prayer and praise are ways of apostolic simplicity. In these we obey the commandment to love one another, and proclaim our Amen to Christ’s prayer for unity.

Prayer:

God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may you give to all Christians, and especially to those entrusted with leadership in your Church, the spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that with the eyes of our hearts we may see the hope to which you have called us: one body and one Spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above and through all and in all. Amen.

For Reflection:

  • What is our experience of encountering one another as brothers and sisters in Christ through Christian fellowship, shared meals and common prayer?
  • What are our expectations of bishops and other church leaders on the path towards the visible unity of the Church?
  • How can we support and encourage them?

We encourage you to share your personal reflections in the comments section.

Source: Greymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute

Day 3: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

week_of_prayer_logo_216wDay 3, The Witness of Fellowship

Scripture

  • Jeremiah 31:10-13, They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion.
  • Psalm 122, Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: May they prosper who love you.
  • 1 John 4:16b-21, Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters are liars.
  • John 17:20-23, That they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me.

Meditation

Division among Christians is an obstacle to evangelization. The world cannot believe that we are Jesus’ disciples while our love for one other is incomplete. We feel the pain of this division when we cannot receive together the body and blood of Christ at the Eucharist, the sacrament of unity.

The source of our joy is our common life in Christ. To live our life of fellowship every day is to welcome, love, serve, pray and witness with Christians from diverse traditions. It is the pearl of great value given to us by the Holy Spirit.

The night before his death, Jesus prayed for unity and love among us. Today we raise our hands and pray with Jesus for Christian unity. We pray for the bishops, ministers and members of all churches. We pray that the Holy Spirit will lead us all on this path of unity.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, who prayed that we might all be one, we pray to you for the unity of Christians according to your will, according to your means. May your Spirit enable us to experience the suffering caused by division, to see our sin and to hope beyond all hope. Amen.

For Reflection:

  • How do we regard Christians of other churches and are we prepared to ask forgiveness for prejudice towards them?
  • What can each of us do to decrease division among Christians?

Source: Greymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute

Day 2: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

week_of_prayer_logo_216wDay 2, Called to be Messengers of Joy

Scripture

  • Isaiah 61:1-4, The spirit of the LORD God is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed.
  • Psalm 133, How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!
  • Philippians 2:1-5, Make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
  • John 15:9-12, I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

Meditation

The joy of the Gospel calls Christians to live the prophecy of Isaiah: “The spirit of the LORD God is upon me, because the LORD has appointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed.” We long for Good News to mend our broken hearts and to release us from all that binds us and makes us captive.

When we are saddened by our own suffering, we may lack the vigor to proclaim the joy that comes from Jesus. Nevertheless, even when we feel unable to give anything to anyone, by bearing witness to the little that we have, Jesus multiplies it in us and in the people around us.

In the Gospel Jesus says, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love” and “love one another as I have loved you.” It is in this way that we discover his joy in us, so that our joy may be complete. This mutual love and mutual joy is at the heart of our prayer for unity. As the psalmist says, “How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!”

Prayer

God of love, look upon our willingness to serve you despite our spiritual poverty and limited abilities. Fulfil the deepest longings of our hearts with your presence. Fill our broken hearts with your healing love so that we may love as you have loved us. Grant us the gift of unity so that we may serve you with joy and share your love with all. This we ask in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

For Reflection:

  • What smothers joy in the world and in the churches?
  • What can we receive from other Christians so that Jesus’ joy may be in us, making us witnesses of the Good News?

Source: Greymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: Day 1

week_of_prayer_logo_216wBackground:

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity gives Christians an annual opportunity to continue their quest for the unity they already share in Christ. It is also a time to gather in praise of the Triune God and to deepen the understanding of the ecumenical movement. By joining in this annual celebration Christians raise their voices, hands and hearts to God seeking the fulfillment of the prayer of Jesus, the Son of God, “that they all may be one.”

The Week of Prayer also invites those who participate to use it as an opportunity to examine the effectiveness of the ecumenical movement in seeking to end the divisions among Christians. From the smallest to the largest communities, from all cultures, races and language groups, from all the baptized to all those in ordained ministry, the Week of Prayer is also an opportunity to ask examine the level of support they have given to this important movement in the life of the Church. An accounting of each Christian’s discipleship and faithfulness to the proclamation of the Gospel—the good news of reconciliation—can be taken every year during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

This year’s theme is, “Called to Proclaim the Mighty Acts of the Lord”. During this week, we will post daily scripture selections, meditations and questions for your reflections.  We invite you to enter into dialogue with other readers by posting comments and commenting on the thoughts that others post.

Day 1, Let the stone be rolled away

Scripture

  • Ezekiel 37:12-14, I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people.
  • Psalm 71:18b-23, Your power and your righteousness, O God, reach the high heavens.
  • Romans 8:15-21, We suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.
  • Matthew 28:1-10, He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said.

Meditation

In our world today there is much grief and pain; wounds inflicted which are difficult to forgive. All of this is like the large stone which covered the mouth of Jesus’ tomb. Wounds such as these imprison us in a spiritual grave.

But if, in our suffering, our pain is united to his pain, then the story does not end here, locked in our graves. The earthquake of the Lord’s resurrection is the earth-shaking event that opens our graves and frees us from the pain and bitterness that hold us in isolation from one another. This is the mighty act of the Lord: his love, which shakes the earth, which rolls away the stones, which frees us, and calls us out into the morning of a new day. Here, at this new dawn we are re-united with our brothers and sisters who have been imprisoned and hurting too. And like Mary Magdalene we must “go quickly” from this great moment of joy to tell others what the Lord has done.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you have always loved us from the beginning, and you have shown the depth of your love in dying for us on the cross and thereby sharing our sufferings and wounds. At this moment, we lay all the obstacles that separate us from your love at the foot of your cross. Roll back the stones which imprison us. Awaken us to your resurrection morning. There may we meet the brothers and sisters from whom we are separated. Amen.

For reflection:

  • What are the events and the situations of our lives and the circumstances that make us lock ourselves in the grave—in sadness, grief, worries, anxiety and despair?
  • What keeps us from accepting the promise and joy of the resurrection of Christ?
  • How ready are we to share the experience of God with those whom we meet?

 

 

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: Day 2

2015_WPCU_Poster_inner_240x349Day 2, Tired of the journey, Jesus sat down facing the well (John 4:6)

SCRIPTURE:

  • Genesis 29:1-14, Jacob and Rachel at the well
  • Psalms 137, How can we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?
  • 1 Corinthians 1:10-18, Each one of you says, I am for Paul, or I am for Apollos
  • John 4:5-6, Jesus was tired out by his journey

 

MEDITATION:

Jesus had been in Judea before his encounter with the Samaritan woman. The Pharisees had begun to spread the word that Jesus baptized more disciples than John. Perhaps it is the reason behind Jesus’ decision to leave. Arriving at the well, Jesus decides to stop. He was tired from his journey. While he was resting, a Samaritan woman came near the well to fetch water. This meeting took place at Jacob’s well: a symbolic place in the life and spirituality of the people of the Bible.

A dialogue begins between the Samaritan woman and Jesus about the place of worship. “Is it on this mountain or in Jerusalem?” asks the Samaritan woman. Jesus answers, “neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem… the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him.” (John 4: 21- 24).

It still happens that instead of a common search for unity, competition and dispute mark the relations between the churches. Communities extol their own virtues and benefits in order to attract new members. Some think that the bigger the church, the larger its number of members, the greater its power, the closer they are to God and present themselves as the only true worshippers. As a result there has been violence and disrespect to other religions and traditions. This type of competitive marketing creates both distrust between the churches and a lack of credibility in society towards Christianity as a whole. As competition grows the “other” community becomes the enemy.

Who are the true worshippers? We need “wells” to lean upon, to rest and let go of disputes, competition and violence, places where we can worship “in Spirit and in Truth.”

PRAYER:

Gracious God, often our churches are led to choose the logic of competition. Forgive our sin of presumption. We are weary from this need to be first. Allow us to rest at the well. Refresh us with the water of unity drawn from our common prayer. May your Spirit who hovered over the waters of chaos bring unity from our diversity.
Amen.

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: Day 1

2015_WPCU_Poster_inner_240x349INTRODUCTION:

Annually, Christians everywhere gather together throughout the world in prayerful communion with Jesus Christ in his prayer, “that they all may be one” (John 17:21). This annual celebration unites Churches in the common quest for Christian unity. This special week was first observed in 1908 and continues to be celebrated annually in January.

This year our scriptural theme comes from the Gospel of John where Jesus says to the Samaritan woman at the well, “Give me a drink.” In our quest for Christian unity Jesus will give us the living water we need for our journey. Please join us once again as we pray and work for the communion of all, joining our prayer to that of the Lord Jesus Christ, “that all may be one” (John 17:21).

SCRIPTURE:

  • Genesis 24:10-33, Abraham and Rebekah at the well
  • Psalm 42, The deer that longs for running streams
  • 2 Corinthians 8:1-7, The generosity of the churches of Macedonia
  • John 4:1-4, He had to go through Samaria
 MEDITATION:

Jesus and his disciples traveled from Judea to Galilee. There was a certain prejudice against Samaria and the Samaritans. The negative reputation of Samaria came from its mix of races and religions. What does the Gospel of John mean, when saying, “it is necessary to go through Samaria”? For Jesus, it is a choice. Going through Samaria means that it is necessary to meet the other, the different, the one who is often seen as a threat.

The conflict between Jews and Samaritans was old. For Jews, Samaritans became a people “mixed and impure.” Samaritans in their turn, also had difficulty accepting Jews (John 4:8). So resistance to dialogue came from the two sides.

John makes it clear that “going through Samaria” is a choice Jesus is making; he is reaching beyond his own people. In this he is showing us that isolating ourselves from those who are different and relating only to people like ourselves is a self-inflicted impoverishment. It is the dialogue with those who are different that makes us grow.

 PRAYER:

God of all peoples; teach us to go through Samaria to meet our brothers and sisters from other churches! Allow us to go there with an open heart so we may learn from every church and culture! We confess that you are the source of unity. Grant us the unity that Christ wills for us.